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Tom Russell Joined By Calexico, Lucinda Williams, Van Dyke Parks On Cinematic 'Mesabi'

The Mesabi iron range juts into Minnesota, a desolate deposit of minerals and the birthplace of Bob Dylan. American composer and storyteller Tom Russell says that Bob Dylan inspired him to become an artist, and his new 'Mesabi' pays moving tribute with compelling tales that connect the iron range to the border town of Juarez, Mexico and the myth of Hollywood celebrity with cinematic, global revelry. 'Mesabi,' out Sept 6 on Shout! Factory, is a vast, interwoven collection of tales set to twangy rock, country and Mexican folk and features Calexico, Van Dyke Parks and Lucinda Williams.

Co-produced by Russell and keyboardist Barry Walsh, and recorded in several different studios in Tucson, Texas, Nashville and Los Angeles, 'Mesabi' is the 26th album from an artist whose songs have been recorded by such icons as Johnny Cash, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Jeff Walker, Doug Sahm and Ramblin' Jack Elliott, among others.

'Mesabi' is thematically ambitious, drawing inspiration from American icons like Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and the perilous town of Juarez, Mexico, close to where Tom lives. Says Tom, "The puzzle is that [Juarez is] the most dangerous city in the world and El Paso, just over the bridge, is the safest city in the United States."

Along with the release of 'Mesabi,' 2011 has much in store for Tom. Filmmaker Monte Hellman ('Two-Lane Blacktop') demanded that Tom's new songs be included in his new film 'Road To Nowhere;' a book of 60 of Tom's paintings will be released this fall on Bang Tail Press; a documentary about Tom's life, 'Don't Look Down,' will be released soon; and he will be touring the US in September and October.

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'MESABI' TRACK LISTING:

1. Mesabi
2. When the Legends Die
3. Farewell Never Never Land
4. The Lonesome Death Of Ukulele Ike
5. Sterling Hayden
6. Furious Love (For Liz)
7. A Land Called "Way Out There"
8. Roll The Credits, Johnny
9. Heart Within A Heart
10. And God Created Border Towns
11. Goodnight, Juarez
12. Jai Alai
13. Love Abides

Bonus Tracks:
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
The Road To Nowhere

Tour dates and more info here.

Jazz Museum in Harlem Featured on BBC

A feature piece on the NJMH’s acquisition of and programming around the BILL SAVORY collection with be broadcast Wednesday, September 29th on the  7 p.m. broadcast (most local times) on both BBC AMERICA and BBC WORLD.

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating jazz as a living entity that stretches as far into the future as it does into the past. NJMH programs currently attract several thousand visitors a year. This event is the Museum’s largest and most important annual fundraising effort. Proceeds from the gala will support the Museum’s mission.

As you may have seen in the August 17th New York Times cover story, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem made a acquisition of a historic collection of never-before-heard recordings, including live performances of great American jazz icons from 1935-1941.  The collection of 975 aluminum and vinyl discs, encompassing over 100 hours of material, was created by William Savory, a recording engineer and Harvard-educated physicist who worked at a radio transcription service in New York and used the equipment his job afforded him to record hundreds of hours of material directly off the radio. The collection includes performances by jazz icons such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Lionel Hampton, Fats Waller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and more, as well as classical broadcasts including Toscanini, Ormandy, and Kirsten Flagstad. The quality of the discs is extraordinary for the time, as most jazz enthusiasts in the 1930s did not have the access to the professional equipment that Savory enjoyed. You can sample some these newly discovered treasures at the Museum’s website.

The search for, and cultivation of, this collection is an exemplary example of the Museum’s commitment to preserve the history of jazz, while nurturing its evolution for future generations.  It also comes at a fortuitous time in the Museum’s development as we are currently preparing to build a permanent home at Mart 125 – a historic landmark in Upper Manhattan which stands directly across from the famed Apollo Theatre on Harlem’s 125th Street.